Duterte says Abu Sayyaf wants to establish caliphate in Southeast Asia
President Rodrigo Duterte has said the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group has been pushing for the establishment of a caliphate in Southeast Asia.
"The Abu Sayyaf no longer hungers for independence in Mindanao. They are no longer hungry for autonomy. They are hungry for a fight to establish a caliphate in Southeast Asia," said the Chief Executive in a speech in a military camp in Isabela province on Saturday.
He explained that a caliphate is a kingdom for Muslims.
He expressed belief the Abu Sayyaf, which was founded in the 1990s, would no longer talk on the basis of extending assistance in their place.
"It's either the caliphate or nothing," Duterte said as he warned that the bandits would also engage in "urban terrorism."
With this, the President asked the government troopers to reinvent themselves into being intelligence operatives.
"So you have to train more, you have to reinvent yourself from almost a soldier in uniform to all of you being intelligence operatives," he said.
He reiterated his assurance to the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police of the government's support to them, such as the provision of equipment and weaponry "necessary to win the war or at least to defeat them in every fight."
The Abu Sayyaf is a known kidnap-for-ransom group with stronghold in southern province of Sulu. The bandits usually behead their victims if ransom demand is not met.
The group was allegedly behind the deadly explosion in Davao City on September 2, leaving 15 people dead and scores wounded.
Local and foreign hostages have remained on the hands of the Abu Sayyaf. Celerina D. Monte/DMS